In support of good story – AXANAR

My Children will be the first to tell you that I am a full on Trekie. I watch it, I read about it, I know it’s history. I have read things about how the scripts were made and know things about the production of different episodes. I breed it into my kids. All of them know, for example, the proper response to, “Live Long and Prosper.” Most of them can even do the famous Vulcan hand sign by the time they are two or three.

With that in mind, you might understand why it is that I got upset about the most recent Star Trek Movie. I am not going to go into all of that here, if you want to read about it, you can see it here. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS – A REVIEW and IT IS NOT THAT I HATE REBOOTS, I JUST WANT A NEW STORY However, the long and the short of it is that the Star Trek Universe is so huge, that there is no excuse for retelling an old story for one of the movies.

And before you get all up in arms and point to Trouble with Tribbles and Trials and Tribulations, that was a very special case where they were celebrating and anniversary, and it was a single episode in a series that ran for seven seasons.

But enough about that. What I really want to talk about is the future of the Star Trek Universe. I know there are rumors about giving Worf (Michael Dorn) his own series and I am excited to see where that goes. However right now there are a number of fan based projects going.

This one AXANAR is one of the most promising. Axanar_Logo_ret-small

The great part of this is that it takes a story that was only hinted at in the original series, and fills in the gaps, instead of retelling a story that is already out there. This story fills in the gaps, and that expands the Star Trek Universe making it a far richer place.

What Follows is the Prelude to Axanar. Think of it as a 21 minute episode that gives you the background so you understand what is happening in the feature length movie that is coming out at the end of this year. (2015)

This is a fan based film. This is a “for the love” production. They can’t ever make any money on this. That means that they do need your support to make this happen. Before you role your eyes and say, “Oh a fan film,” They have hired professional actors, set designers, CGI production and script writers. This thing is top notch and could easily stand next to any of the official regular episodes. So please consider donating to this so that they can make this film and hopefully more after it. I think after you watch it, you will agree with me that it is completely worth your time and maybe a little of your money.

So Grab your phaser and your tricorder and prepare for a little old school Trek, with some incredible story telling.

Now that you have watched it, again please consider giving in some way. If you can’t afford anything right now, just share it with other people who you know will like it, so that they can see and maybe donate. This is what Star Trek should be. http://www.startrekaxanar.com/

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Battle For The Net

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10thEveryone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.

Defining moments – J.R. Murdock

Apollo_11_first_stepAfter being invited to a military retirement ceremony where the retiree talked about the defining moments in his career that shaped his life, I thought it would be interesting to ask other people about their defining moments. Many of these will be very personal, some of them will mean nothing to anyone but the person who is writing about them but for all of us, we understand the idea. There are moments in our life that shape us and change us forever.

Defining Moments by J.R. Murdock

Life is filled with many things that will change a person forever. Many are things that a great number of people will experience. Yes, these things will change your life, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Marriage (or finding a partner to spend your life with), getting a degree or two or three, children, burying one or both of your parents. It’s the course that life takes. For me, the biggest life-changing events were in moving.

There are other things that also change your life forever that may never happen to another person. Possibly a course of events that put you into a position to make that life changing event.

At thirteen I was living in a very small town. I had no prospect of a better life. Things were what they were. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I hated physical labor, but living with my mother and step-dad in the back woods of Minnesota, you did physical labor. Mowing lawns for spending money. Shoveling driveways. Raking leaves. Cutting wood. Helping neighbors. Going to a worksite to help shovel gravel, sand, cement, or carry roofing material. Never a shortage of things to do.

Then my mother left my step-father. Life took a turn I wasn’t expecting. My father, a man I’d only spoken to on the phone a handful of times over the years and gone to visit twice, wanted my brother and I to move and live with him.

The jump was made and we moved from the little town of McGregor, Minnesota to Durango, Colorado. Life was easier. Still, there was no shortage of things to do. The winters were a little lighter, but there was still snow to shovel and grass to cut. Fewer trees meant no leaves to rake.

After only a couple of years, my father decided to move back to Minnesota. My senior year in high school was in an even bigger city, Minneapolis. I liked the big city and I loved the house we had moved into. I didn’t like the cold and I hated the snow. I needed a change.

When I was eighteen, I joined the Navy. Sure, millions of men and women have joined the military. For me it was a chance to get away from the life I’d always known. I had dozens of reasons to join, but mostly it was to get away from home. To become my own man. To do my own thing. I moved from coast to coast while in the Navy. I lived in Orlando, Florida, Pensacola, Florida, Lakehurst, New Jersey, Seal Beach, California, Long Beach, California, back to Pensacola. In a few years I’d been on beaches from the Atlantic, to the Gulf of Mexico, to the pacific, and back again. Each time I drove across the country, stopping and seeing everything I could see. Before I was twenty-two, I’d been in over half of the lower forty-eight states.

When I got out of the Navy, I moved back to Durango. When I was in high school, and in the Navy, I played drums and bass. My best friend had lived in California while I was there and he’d moved back to Colorado. I moved there so we could start a band.
We did.

Durango isn’t known for its music scene. So we packed up everything we had and moved to San Diego.

At twenty-six, when I finally decided that the band thing was never going to work out, I was fairly confident that I would never marry, and I would never have kids. I had been to the bottom as a starving musician. Being a musician was awesome, but starving really sucked. I needed to reassess and start over.

I got myself back into school. I got a degree. I got a good paying job. Then I got a better paying job. I met my wife. Got married. We had my favorite daughter.
One thing doesn’t seem to have changed, though. We still move from place to place to get ourselves into a better place.

If it hadn’t been for all the moving I’d done throughout my life, I would be a completely different person. Now, at 45, I’ve lived in 24 different places across six different states. I’ve stayed in hotels in more than a two-dozen different cities and driven through at least 30 states.

For me, change is constant. Many things will never change, but I’ve settled down so many times, that I can call almost anywhere home. Yes, growing roots for many helps define their life. For me, it’s all that moving and uprooting that’s helped define who I am. Sometimes I think I don’t want to move any more. Then I find myself moving yet again. For me, that’s just a part of life. Something that will probably never change. Sometimes, I hope it won’t. It keeps me guessing just where I’ll lay my head next and when the next adventure I will have.

Despite what you may think, J.R. Murdock did have a normal childhood. If you consider swimming in lakes, playing hide and seek in the woods, and spending more time with his imagination than a television, then yes, it was normal. There are those times when little voices will talk to him inside his head. This was never a frequent occurrence and he learned to ignore them. Most of the time.j.r.murdock_1361732631_04[1]

His first book was attempted over several years (probably closer to a dozen) and somehow that book about Dungeon and Dragons characters just never really worked out the way he wanted it to. Someday it might! Just you wait and see. Those characters will not stay down. They will have their story told! I’m telling you here and now…

Shhh, calm. Relaxed. Don’t scare away the nice people that have come to this page and might want to buy a book (or three).

Where were we? Oh, yes, the voices inside his head. They like to talk to at inappropriate times. Fortunately they also talk to at appropriate times and that’s when books happen. Yes, the voices must have their story told or they just keep talking over one another and it’s just a big old jumbled mess and nobody will want to read anything like that, right? So it’s good that they get their chance to come out so that you’ll have something to read and enjoy.

When not listening to the voices inside his head, J.R. Murdock spends time with his wife and his favorite daughter (yes, there is only one daughter that’s why she’s his favorite). They reside in sunny San Diego which is about as close to paradise as you can get and still be in a big city.

Find out more about Mr. Murdock
http://jrmurdock.com
http://ofgnomesanddwarves.com
http://about.me/j.r.murdock

If you would like to participate this this and submit your own essay please use the contact form below to let me know.
Thanks,
Jeff

Defining Moments – Dan Absalonson

Apollo_11_first_stepDefining Moments by Dan Absalonson

I often try to stop and enjoy moments in life. I guess I’m a bit introspective that away. I think I learned that from my parents. They would take us out on the boat at the lake cabin, or stop us at the top of the mountain before we went down the hill for the first time on a ski trip, and tell us to stop and look around and take it in and enjoy the moment. To be thankful for what we had. So we did. My brothers, sister, and I had a lot growing up, but we learned to be thankful for it. I’m sure there were many times I could have been much more thankful, but now as I am an adult myself I’m grateful for the lesson from my parents of being thankful and really enjoying the moments in life. There have been some crazy ones, like right now we have six kids under six in our house. Three of them are ours and the other three are foster children. It’s not easy, but trying to enjoy the moments in life instead of always looking forward to what’s next has helped me enjoy life more.

Getting married

My wedding day was an amazing day I’ll never forget. I was so happy and so excited to marry my best friend. I tried to really enjoy it, because that’s what a lot of other people said to do. Don’t let the stress get to you, just enjoy it, so I did. Being married has definitely shaped who I am today. I’ll never forget watching her come down the aisle and wanting to do whatever I could from that day forward to make her happy, protect her, and love her. Doing these things have made me grow a lot as a person. I learned how selfish I am. How scared of change and conflict I am.

As I write this today I am a much stronger person and I am incredibly thankful for that. My wife helps me to be strong and she is an amazing support system and a person who pushes me to rise to the occasion. We currently have a 3, 4, and 6 year old and also care for 3 foster children who are 4, 5 and 5. I never could have imagined being able to do what we’re doing right now but thanks to my wife I have become a stronger person who is able to deal with more. I still pale in comparison to her strength, but I’m very thankful for the person I have grown to be. I used to be a limp noodle with no backbone. Now I’m a lover and a fighter – hopefully I’m always fighting for righteous things.

Deciding to change my career path.

I was a week into my second quarter at my local community college when I changed my mind from wanting to become a teacher to becoming a 3D artist. It was a huge decision. A turning point that would decide what my career would be. I dropped all my classes and enrolled in a couple digital art classes instead. One was a Photoshop class and the other was the only 3D art class they had. A few moments lead up to this defining moment, but it was one of the biggest decisions I made that steered the rest of my life from that moment on. It ended up moving me from the home I grew up in to the big city of Seattle four hours away – a town where I didn’t know a single person. So for those moments that helped push me over the edge and decide I wanted to become a 3D artist instead of an English teacher.

I was blessed to have an awesome art teacher in junior high and when the first full length 3D movie Toy Story came out on video he had us watch it over the course of a few classes. He told us to study it. Watching that film critically filled me with wonder and made me want to be a part of making something like it. The next moment was when I was playing a video game. I made my character climb up a ladder and the animation of him climbing was so bad that I thought to myself, if I knew the tools I’m sure I could do a better job than this! The last moment was the first quarter of community college where a classmate used a simple 3D rendered video in his presentation. He wasn’t majoring in 3D but liked fiddling with the software. I thought, if he can make that awesome imagery maybe I could too.

So during the second week of my second quarter of college I changed my career path. Since then I lived in Seattle for several years, made tons of friends, moved back to my hometown and am now working my second job as a 3D artist. From what I’ve heard from others I have a rare situation in that I can truthfully say I love my job. I’m so thankful I get to use what I learned at The Art Institute of Seattle to bring home the bacon for my family. Every day at work feels like a privilege.

The Day I Became a Father

I’ve always wanted kids. I remember dreaming of having a family and children when I was in high school. At the age of 25, the same age my parents were when they had me their firstborn son, my wife and I had a son. Like with Jeff’s child, he was taken from us and had to spend several days in the NICU. That was really scary and no fun, but I’ll never forget when he was born. It was definitely a defining moment. It felt like I was in a dream. It was so surreal. One moment the doctors are working and I’m holding my wife’s hand, the next moment I’m cutting our son’s umbilical cord and he’s crying. My son knew my wife’s voice and when the doctor put our baby boy on her chest and she spoke her first words to him he stopped crying and looked towards her. I’ll never forget that moment. It was amazing to see my little boy comforted by his mommy’s voice. Now he’s turning six this month and has grown into an amazing little guy that I couldn’t be prouder of.

The Day We Adopted a Child

It was another surreal day going to the courthouse, walking through the metal detector, waiting while all dressed up, and then going into a courtroom with a judge waiting for us. We sat down at the table you see defendants or plaintiffs sit at on law TV shows. We answered a few questions for the judge and then got to have our picture taken with him. Then outside the courtroom we were handed a folder full of paperwork and as our lawyer handed it to me he said, “Now in the eyes of the law it’s as if you guys gave birth to her.” And like that I officially had a daughter to take care of and love and teach. I was a boy. I know what boys are like and how to take care of them, but girls? I guess all I can do is try my best. Seems like a more weighty responsibility raising a girl, but I’m sure it will be another thing that helps me learn and grow. Especially in the teen years, or so I’ve been told.

Throwing a Birthday Party for a Foster Child

The two times my wife and I were able to throw a birthday party for a foster child were pretty amazing and made all the difficult days of foster care seem worth it. When one of your kids asks a foster child turning four what kind of cake they want and they ask what a birthday cake is – you feel pretty privileged to throw a birthday party for that child. The look on the face of both of the children we’ve thrown parties for as they sat before the cake, blew out the candles, and then opened tons of presents was priceless. I’m getting a little emotional just thinking about it now. There are many times I wish we weren’t doing foster care but when I think on the two defining moments of those birthday parties it makes me glad we’re doing it. Being a foster parent has surely helped define me as a person. It’s made me a whole heck of a lot stronger. Right now I’m used to parenting six kids the age of 6 and under – when going to the mall, out to restaurants, to the park, and at home. I couldn’t do it without my wife’s help and I don’t know how she manages when I’m at work. Someday when it’s just our three kids again, life will feel like a breeze 🙂

Dan first started writing stories in elementary school, where he and a friend would skip lunch and recess once a month to eat in the DanHatCar[1]library while hearing all about the new books on the shelves. His love for reading, as with visual art and music, has now extended into creating his own fiction. He works as a digital artist and lives in Washington state with his beautiful family of five. A huge fan of audio books, Dan podcasts all of his stories for free. You can find those stories here, or subscribe to the podcast with a button on the right. You can also find many free and a couple cheap eBooks of his stories at all the popular online retailers through the link above. Dan loves podcasting his fiction, but is involved in a few other podcasts as well.

If you would like to participate this this and submit your own essay please use the contact form below to let me know.
Thanks,
Jeff

Defining Moments – Scott Roche

After being invited to a military retirement ceremony where the retiree talked about the defining moments in his career that shaped his life, I thought it would be interesting to ask other people about their defining moments. Many of these will be very personal, some of them will mean nothing to anyone but the person who is writing about them but for all of us, we understand the idea. There are moments in our life that shape us and change us forever.

First up is Scott Roche

I’ve had an interesting life so far. I’ve lived in six states. I’ve
worked in over a dozen industries. I have a wife of nearly twenty
years. I am a father to three children; one of whom is autistic and
another who may be bipolar. I’ve been bankrupt and at one point lived
in a trailer not much bigger than an RV with nothing but a kerosene
heater for warmth. Now I’m blessed with a lovely house across from a
lake and am able to provide well for my family. At every step in my
life I’ve tried to learn from past mistakes and let every incident
work towards making me a better person.

Jeff asked me to think of a few things out of that history that have
changed my life for the better. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, many of
them may be perceived by others as failures. I find that most often
it’s easier to learn from hardship than from success.

Flying Island Press – Jeff and I were part of the glorious experiment
that was Flying Island Press. Sadly, it didn’t last forever, and we
closed the doors on it quietly, each of us moving on to other
projects. I said it more than once while I was there, and I’ll say it
again, I learned more from that experience than I would have ever
learned on my own. Being an editor, slush reader, and quasi-social
media director for it stretched me as a person. I got to experience
the joys of finding new authors and the pains of rejecting stories
that were soooooo close. Having read so many good and less than good
stories has made me a better writer. Last, but not least, getting to
work with the crew is something I will never forget.

Fatherhood – Most of the stuff I write isn’t for the squeamish and
REALLY shouldn’t be read by children. When my own kids asked me to
give them something of mine to read I didn’t have anything to hand
them. After much thought and a dash of inspiration, I came up with the
character Ginnie Dare. Crimson Sands, the first book with Ginnie, is a
point of pride. The feedback I’ve gotten indicates that I created a
book that parents can read with and to their children. It’s something
I likely wouldn’t have written except for the intervention of my own
children.

Rejections – One of the temptations of an era in which we can
self-publish all of our own stories is to do just that. Writers can
circumvent the whole rejection cycle and put out everything
themselves. I think that’s a mistake. Sending your short stories to
anthologies and your longer works to publishers can be a valuable
experience. I’ve been doing more of that lately and it’s taught me
patience, thickened my skin, and made me want to be good enough to
make it past the slush reader’s desk.

Extended Unemployment – I’ve often thought, “Man if I just had free
time, I’d write my butt off.” Well guess what? I got my pink slip in
January of last year. I was unemployed for six months. I don’t think I
wrote six thousand words. I’ve been employed and have written almost
fifty thousand words of new fiction since the beginning of the year.
It’s not as much as I’d like to have done, but it’s more than I’ve
written in the first quarter of any year I’ve been alive. And that’s
with kids, a wife, and a full time job. You can do this. It taught me
that I was using my blessings as a crutch not to write. Not doing that
anymore.

Bad things are going to happen to us all. Life gets more complicated
the older you get. You can’t let those complications stop you or slow
you down for good. Sometimes you’ll have to step back and take stock,
but don’t let that be permanent. Let life’s defining moments, good and
bad, drive you forward with a new purpose!

Scott Roche craves only caffeine and the clacking of keys. He
pays his bills doing the grunt work no one else wants to take,
bringing dead electronics back to life and working arcane wonders with
software. His true passion is hammering out words that become anything
from tales that terrify to futuristic worlds of wonder. All that and
turning three children into a private mercenary army make for a life
filled with adventure.

Scott’s Website – http://www.scottroche.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/scott.roche.author

Twitter – http://twitter.com/spiritualtramp

Patreon – http://www.patreon.com/scottroche

eBook_cover (1)Scott is also trying to fund his next book in the Ginnie Dare series so if you are so inclined please consider throwing a few dollars in his direction.
IndieGoGo. http://igg.me/at/ginniedare/x/397786













If you would like to participate this this and submit your own essay please use the contact form below to let me know.
Thanks,
Jeff

Defining Moments

Recently I was invited to attend a military retirement ceremony. As normally happens there was a lot of pomp and the ceremony. What impressed me more than the ceremony was the retiree’s speech. He had been a fighter jet pilot, and he talked about the flights that meant the most to him, the ones that defined his career. I won’t bore you with all the details, but he talked about super high flights, super low ones as well as some others that were in between. The last one he focused on was one of his first solo flights, and how at that moment even being so young, that moment changed his life forever, and some times how he wished he could have that moment back. Not so he could change it but so that he could relive it and savor the moment more.

The point of his talk was about valuing those moments. Stepping out of that moment (looking back) and looking at the time around those moments and realizing what they meant to you, to your family, and to the world around you. How they shaped your life, how they changed you.

I started to think about maybe the top 5 (because he picked 5) times, the top 5 moments in my career to date that have shaped who I am. First, I realized that my career is boring. So I expanded on the idea to include the rest of my life.

I thought it might be a fun experiment to try to write those ideas down, talk about what they meant to me and then share them with the world. Then I thought it might be interesting to invite some other people to do the same thing.

Defining Moments

When I set out to write this post, I had some pretty specific ideas about what I wanted to write, but when I actually sat down to write, I found that they didn’t really meet with what I think I wanted to this series to be about. I mean I could talk about the day I got married, or the day I first become a father. Without a doubt, those were huge moments in my life. They shaped who I am. Both of those have completely changed who I am. Becoming a father, taught me that I love being a father, and getting married has taught me and will continue to teach me what it means to really love, and thank you for that my dear.

While these events were important, there are a few events that have changed me in other ways. The first of those was the day I got off the plane from JFK airport and walked into Frankfurt International Airport. What followed was almost 7 years of cultural shock. I spent from just before my ninth birthday until after my 16th birthday living in Germany. We traveled every chance we got. I learned to ski, I speak some German to this day, and I have respect for the culture of Europe that I don’t think I would have gotten had a not lived there.

The next event that defined who I am was only about 6 weeks later. When we moved to Germany there was no housing available right away. And we were stuck in a hotel. We didn’t speak the language, we didn’t really know our way around, and even though we had a great sponsor who showed us around, it was pretty easy to get depressed pretty fast. That was what was happening to my mother who was stuck in the hotel all day while my father went to work and my brother and I went to school. It was spilling over, so one day my father said pack some bags we are going on a trip. While there was some moaning and groaning, we all piled in our newly acquired car and headed south to Garmish. We spent the weekend in the General Paton hotel. My brother and I got our first experience of ordering fish by picking it out of the tank.
Understand that it rained and sleeted all the way down, as it had almost every day since we had arrived in Germany. We had seen nothing except the same grey skies that we had seen in Frankfurt. And even though we had a nice room and a good meal, I think even my father was beginning to question driving the 6 hours to just spend time in an even more cramped hotel room. That first night about midnight, my dad got up to get a drink of water on his way back to bed he took a moment to peek out the curtains. The next thing we knew the curtains were opened wide and all of us were awake. “You have got to see this,” he said.
The sky had cleared up, the moon was out and right out our window were the Alps bright as daylight in the moon light. It was that moment that I think turned our minds around, and we all decided that we wanted to be there. The beauty of what we were seeing was to this day indescribable. It also started my life long fascination with living in and around the mountains. So to my poor wife who probably had no idea why was so excited that whole drive out to Colorado just before we got married on seeing the mountains for the first time, it is my dad’s fault.

I met my wife the year before we left Germany, and I have always maintained that I knew she was the the one for me the day I first noticed her walking into our classroom. The fact that I didn’t notice her until the ned of the day and that she was in most of the rest of my classes that day, well we will just gloss over that part. While I still maintain that is the case, I was young and stubborn (read stupid.) It was not until I was sitting on a mountainside in France, that I realized it was not the girl I was dating that I missed, and that I was my wife-to-be that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

The birth of each of our kids has been something special. Our first son was taken away from us and put in the NICU only 24 hours after he was born, my wife had an emergency C-section and we were 200 miles from home with no money and no way of getting back. I remember holding him and thinking what the heck have we gotten ourselves into. And each kid after that had their own surprises. Our first daughter, and 5th child was born while I was away at school, I remember getting the call about 5:30 am that my wife was going to the hospital, and then failing the quiz that day, and the rushed trip home that weekend. The three children that we planned to have at home and because of one complication or another ended up in the hospital anyway, and then our current youngest being born at home when I ran out of the room to get a towel and the look on my wife’s face when I came back and she was holding that precious little one. My children have change my life in ways I can’t even begin to describe.

Each one of these moments has changed my life. They have defined who I am in ways that even before I started writing this I didn’t realize.

Later this week Scott Roche will take a stab at telling us about his defining moments.

Want to join in the fun? please use the contact form below to let me know.
Thanks,
Jeff